If you are familiar with my blog, My Big Fat Bipolar Life, you probably already know that I am leveraging my 24 years of real-life experience navigating bipolar disorder to help others who have bipolar live a fuller, more balanced life filled with faith, courage, and hope.
So, what differentiates me from other bipolar disorder experts? One crucial thing: My faith in Jesus Christ.
Now, I know what you are thinking. Here’s another Christian who believes that we can pray away mental illness. I understand why you might feel that way because there are those in the Christian community who believe that mental illness is a spiritual problem, not a medical problem. That couldn’t be further from the truth, but we will get to that in a minute.
It was that way of thinking that made me leery to share with others the combination of my experience living well with bipolar with my faith. I knew there would be a cross-section of the bipolar disorder community who would discount me because of it.
I am here today to dispel your fears and present to you five truths about bipolar and faith and how combining the two can enhance your bipolar journey and help you live a fuller, more balanced life.
Here are five truths about bipolar and faith that you should embrace:
1. You can’t pray away bipolar disorder (or any mental illness).
Before we go any further, it is important for you to know that I don’t subscribe to the idea that you can pray away bipolar disorder (or any mental illness). Bipolar disorder is a medical condition, not a spiritual shortcoming.
God created doctors and medicine, and I believe He has called us to be wise and use the resources He has provided for us.
It doesn’t mean you lack faith if you embrace treatment and medication; it just means that you know you can more fully serve God with a clear, healthy mind.
2. Although I don’t believe you can pray away mental illness, I do believe that prayer is a crucial coping mechanism when you live with bipolar disorder.
Even though you can’t pray away bipolar disorder, there is still value found in prayer. I would say that my relationship with Jesus Christ is the reason that I am still alive.
Prayer and the truth found in the Word of God have power that you can’t deny. Harnessing the power of biblical truths through prayer equips you to fight the daily battles of bipolar disorder (See Ephesians 6:12-18).
When you roll around the truth of God’s word in your mind and it takes root, it becomes a powerful tool to clear your mind when your thoughts are not your own.
3. When you don’t have the words to pray, the Holy Spirit steps in and intercedes on your behalf.
I have a confession to make. When I am entrenched in the unrelenting symptoms of bipolar disorder, praying is often the furthest thing from my mind. Sometimes I am just trying to survive. Can you relate?
I know it sounds a little strange that the Holy Spirit would stand in the gap for you, but Romans 8:26 says: “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (ESV).
What does that mean practically? It means that the Holy Spirit reads between the lines and presents perfect prayers to the Lord on your behalf. The Spirit knows what we need even when we don’t, and He relays the message to God, so He can do His part.
4. Jesus Christ is not a distant God who does not care about your suffering. He is personal and relational.
When you are walking through the worst moments of bipolar disorder, it is easy to believe that Jesus Christ is sitting on the throne in some distant world, indifferent to your pain and suffering.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. Jesus Christ is a personal God, and He is relational. Every minute detail of your life matters to Him. Scripture reminds us: “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (2 Peter 5:7 NLT).
He longs for you to reach out to Him, so He can comfort you and guide you like no one else can.
5. You don’t have to sugarcoat your prayers with flowery words and pretend that all is well in your world when it is not.
There’s a school of thought that you have to use the right words when you pray. And there is also the notion that you should not be honest with God about how you feel about your personal struggles.
Here’s the bottom line: God already knows your trials and tribulations, and He stands waiting for you to call on Him for the peace and hope found in Him alone.
You don’t have to pretend you are not angry at your circumstances. Sometimes I have railed against God and cursed Him. I have even said that I hated Him. Do you find that shocking?
Guess what? God doesn’t. He longs for an intimate relationship with you, and intimacy can only develop from an honest exchange of thoughts and feelings, even when they are ugly.
Your anger and feelings are not a surprise to God. You can be real with Him. Being vulnerable and authentic in your darkest moments doesn’t lessen God’s love for you. In fact, wrestling with your faith is crucial in growing your relationship with God.
Isaac’s cemented his faith when he wrestled with God all night: “Then the man said, ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome’” (Genesis 32:26 NIV).
The idea of coping with bipolar and faith used in the same sentence is disturbing for some. That is a natural reaction considering the long-standing history of a portion of the Christian community claiming that mental illness is a faith problem, not a medical issue.
If you just look beyond that, you will find that an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ can be a crucial part of your treatment plan.
Jesus likely won’t heal your bipolar disorder, but He will walk with you during your most difficult moments, and He will carry you when you can’t even walk.
I want to be a part of that journey too. If you are looking for a cookie-cutter Christian to follow who is flawless and has all the right words, I am not your girl. But if you are looking for someone who will be real with you about the reality of bipolar disorder and applying biblical principles to help you walk through your challenges, pull up a chair and let’s get started.
Do you want to learn how to apply scripture and biblical principles to help you harness the courage, peace, and hope found in Jesus Christ alone? Subscribe to my email list. You won’t want to miss out on my weekly devotionals and latest blog posts jam-packed with helpful strategies that you can apply to your own life. As an added bonus, you will receive a free download of my top five favorite bipolar disorder online resources. You won’t want to miss it.